This past Friday saw the Omen by HP Challenge return, except this year the event was slightly different. It's been taken out of Gamescom and given its own dedicated space in Camden, London to entertain CS:GO fans, although this isn't your usual tournament, since it's actually all about 1v1 competition in CS:GO, putting some of the best pros in the world against each other.
On top of that, this is a tournament with a bespoke map created just for the Challenge, and a mixed reality and augmented reality broadcast as well. Omen by HP is really testing the waters here, especially since two rookies - Marco 'Hayden' Witzner and Nikolas 'N1k' Laiho - have also been recruited to try and compete with the pros.
We were at the event, taking us underground in London, to see what Omen by HP was offering, getting a sneak peek at the venue before the event started, and what's more, a load of tech was also on show. We were given demonstrations of all of this, which you can see below, if you're into your PC gaming.
First up is the newest version of the Omen X 27 display, featuring 1ms response time and 240Hz refresh rate, which is really useful for reacting to quick games like PUBG. On top of that, there's also AMD Radeon FreeSync2 HDR Technology, Quad High Definition (QHD) of 2560 x 1440 resolution, and HDR to make the picture look even clearer, all of which can be easily raised, lowered, and tilted to perfect the experience. As you might have guessed, this is a 27" screen too, so it's not small.
Then came the Omen X 2S laptop, which comes with a second screen in the bottom part above the keyboard. This screen can be used for stream chats, YouTube, and more, and it's simply a case of dragging and dropping between the two. We were also told that it's the size of a regular phone so that you can easily view content. This screen itself if 6" and boasts 1080p, so the picture is clear too.
The whole machine has GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, not to mention 240Hz refresh rate to keep things smooth. 1080p and 4K are available, and the keyboard is packed into the bottom of the laptop, moving the mouse pad over to the right. With a metal chassis of 20mm and weighing 5.18lb as well, it's a very portable machine for gaming.
After that we saw the Omen X 25 display, and both this and the 27 version pair with Omen by HP PCs via the command centre, meaning you can automatically adjust settings and check details on your PC. This is the monitor of choice for the Overwatch League, so it's certainly a good piece of kit, keeping the 144Hz screen's peripheral vision clear to see all around them, which is useful for esports.
Again, this has s 1ms response time, features a resolution of 1920 x 1080, and has AMD FreeSync and Anti-Glare to keep you immersed, whether you're taking on enemies in competitive games or playing a single-player experience.
Then we moved away from the heavier stuff to look at the Omen by HP Photon wireless mouse, which has a magnetic rest on the side that can be detached and reattached for left- or right-handed players. Again, this pairs with the Omen PCs automatically, as does the Outpost mousepad, providing charging without wires.
The Photon boasts between 400 and 8,200dpi, as well as eight sensitivity levels, six programmable buttons, a battery life of up to 50 hours, and of course personalisation via the PC command center, for those who want all their gadgets looking bright and colourful (and matching, as you can set all Omen devices to the same colour).
Last up is the latest Omen by HP Prime headset, and this model has been updated. The first version had the technology to keep your ears cool, but this has also made sure to keep the outside cool as well, featuring other elements like a mic that you flip up to mute, as well as the aforementioned technology to keep you cool as well.
Once the demonstration had wrapped up, we had a brief chat with the players, during which we heard that Hayden considered it a "privilege" to be able to play with Nicolai 'Dev1ce' Reedtz, Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač, Oleksandr 'S1mple' Kostyliev, Nathan 'NBK' Schmitt, Denis 'Electronic' Sharipov, and Håvard 'Rain' Nygaard.
In fact, Astralis coach Danny 'Zonic' Sørensen trained Hayden and N1k at a bootcamp before the event, and while we were told that the details are a secret, they were given access to all the top resources in CS:GO training, including physical preparation ahead of the event.
During the seeding stage, Dev1ce sat at the top of the table with 21 points to his name, and Hayden actually managed to come above Rain with 14 points, while N1k, unfortunately, sat at the bottom with 6.
In the playoffs N1k only lost to Dev1ce 8-7 though, with S1mple actually beating the Danish player 13-5 after that. S1mple had also defeated Hayden 8-2, and in the grand final he had a close standoff with French player NBK, ending up with a narrow 18-17 victory, leaving Rain to claim third place over Dev1ce in the third-place match.
Overall it was another successful event for the Omen by HP Challenge, featuring top technology as HP has already shown off at Gamescom last month, but also a unique esports competition with some big names in CS:GO. It'll be interesting to see where they take it from here too, as there's plenty of avenues to explore.